Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five arrested in second round of 'Black Monday' protests

Five arrested in second round of 'Black Monday' protests

District security guards load protesters onto a police vehicle yesterday morning in Tuol Kork.
District security guards load protesters onto a police vehicle yesterday morning in Tuol Kork. Hong Menea

Five arrested in second round of 'Black Monday' protests

Five land activists were arrested yesterday in the capital’s Tuol Kork district for taking part in the second week of the “Black Monday” campaign for the release of detained civil society members, though the majority of rights groups and NGOs refrained from demonstrating publicly.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Khoung Sreng said the five – Phork Sophin, Ngov Nary and Yin Srin, from Borei Keila; Srey Touch, from Boeung Kak; and airport development activist Chray Nim – were picked up outside the Chenla Theater and taken to the district’s police station for protesting illegally.

“They have freedom to express an opinion, but they have to inform the authorities [about a protest] according to the law on peaceful demonstration,” said Sreng. “Police only detained them for questioning.”

Three of the five activists were released last night after thumb-printing an agreement not to gather in public or dress in black on Mondays. Touch and Nim were released later after thumb-printing a revised agreement.

On Monday, May 9, supporters dressed in black planned to protest near Prey Sar prison, but police intervened and eight, including two foreign NGO consultants, were detained and released.

After last last week’s “Black Monday” arrests, government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, called the campaign a colour revolution – typically a reference to non-violent popular movements in the former Soviet bloc.

At Boeung Kak village yesterday, a separate group of 30 activists held another small protest which was heavily monitored by a police contingent who prevented the group from leaving the vicinity.

Bov Sorphea, a participant in the protest, said they decided to continue their protest in the community given that they weren’t allowed to leave, and dismissed claims by the government that they were orchestrating a colour revolution.

A district security guard shoves a woman in the back yesterday morning in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district during a demonstration against the detention of Adhoc staffers.
A district security guard shoves a woman in the back yesterday morning in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district during a demonstration against the detention of Adhoc staffers. Hong Menea

“The government accusing us of setting up a colour revolution is a shame because they are accusing their own people,” she said. “In fact, we have no intention to topple the government.”

Meanwhile, rights groups and NGOs continued the campaign online, taking to social media to post pictures of their staffers wearing black and holding messages of support for the four detained human rights staffers and one election official.

Licadho director Naly Pilorge said the campaign had taken a new form with different groups using their own ways to show solidarity. While only a few land activists protested in the streets, she said the campaign had spread beyond the 100 or so people last week to many more.

“Other groups and unions have been posting online from Cambodia, the region and other countries wearing black and using signs or short videos with their message,” she said.

While some civil society members last week said that Hun Sen raising the possibility of a royal pardon for the five arrestees lead them to scale down their planned protests, Naly said it was also out of respect to the families, even though it was still uncertain if they would get a pardon or even a reduced sentence.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons. Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe

  • Hun Sen asks Cambodians to believe in government

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked citizens and investors to trust that the government will overcome the challenges brought about by Covid-19 and the loss of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh,

  • Westerdam passenger ‘never had’ Covid-19

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the US citizen that allegedly tested positive in Malaysia after travelling on the Westerdam was never infected with Covid-19 in the first place. In an article published in the newspaper USA Today on Friday, CDC

  • ‘Ghost staff’ found, $1.7M returned to state coffers

    The Ministry of Civil Service said more than seven billion riel ($1.7 million) in salaries for civil servants was returned to the state last year after it discovered that the books had been cooked to pay ‘ghost officials’. This is despite claims by the Ministry of

  • Crimes up with 211 deaths, influx of foreigners to blame

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday said crimes increased by eight per cent last year, resulting in 211 deaths. He revealed the figures during the ministry’s 2019 review and laid the blame for the increase on an influx of foreigners into the Kingdom. “The crime

  • Woman wanted for killing own son

    Police in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district are on the lookout for a woman who allegedly hacked her son to death on Sunday in Stung Meanchey III commune. District police chief Meng Vimeandara identified the son as Chan Sokhom, 32. “The offender can’t escape forever.